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Ken Borland



Boks talk Wales up with doe-eyed sincerity; alarm bells ring for Welsh 0

Posted on August 15, 2022 by Ken

The Springboks have spoken all week with doe-eyed sincerity about how desperate and tough opposition Wales are going to be in the first Test at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening, while the tourists themselves have acknowledged how large, both literally and metaphorically, the challenge will be for them in Pretoria.

Wales centre Nick Tompkins admitted on Friday that if they don’t shut down the Springboks from early on, then Saturday night could develop into a very dark time for them indeed.

The 1.80m, 95kg Tompkins will earn his 21st cap as he steps into the Loftus Versfeld ring at inside centre, but he does have considerable experience and bulk alongside him in George North, who will bring his 1.93m, 109kg frame into the Test arena for the 106th time, including three appearances for the British and Irish Lions. The 30-year-old ruptured his ACL in April 2021 and last played for Wales at the end of the 2021 Six Nations.

“To have George back is brilliant and I’m massively excited to play alongside him,” Tompkins said on Friday. “Hopefully we can take our chance and do what we can do.

“Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am have consistently shown how good they are as a pair. They have done great things, so it’s going to be a massive test for us. They are also sharp in defence.

“So it’s going to be a real Test match for us and obviously we have to try and contain them. But George brings a real voice on the field along with his strong carries.

“We just need to try and get that consistency as a combination and really carry it on. It’s up to us as a team to shut the Springboks down, but especially us as centres,” Tompkins said.

The ability of Am to disrupt an opposition backline was especially concerning for the 27-year-old Tompkins, who hinted that every time the Sharks star flinches, alarm bells will ring in his head.

“We know Lukhanyo defends very aggressively and you need to look at his body language to see what he’s going to do. Whatever happens, you have to be decisive.

“Those seconds are so vital and you can’t afford to be passive. I’ve gone through the scenarios and what will happen, and it’s good to have a big guy like George outside me,” Tompkins said.

Focus on the job at hand is the key for Wales if they are to win their first Test on South African soil in 11 attempts.

“We just need to focus on our jobs and make sure every action we make is positive, it’s got to be aggressive and 100% committed,” Tompkins said. “We need to scrap for each other and give a 100% performance.

“The game will ebb and flow, like it did when we played them in Wales last year. There will be a lot of kicking, and with the bounce of the ball, things can happen.

“We don’t doubt it’s going to be physical, and in the first few minutes hopefully we’ve figured out where we are, and hopefully after 20 minutes we have stood up to it,” Tompkins said.

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